Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sharks Gameday: Joe Thornton= Alex Rodriguez

SJ Sharks @ Calgary Flames

7 PM PST

Calgary leads, 2-1

The biggest crime a player can commit is to not care. Guy gets a DUI? Beats his wife? Gets in a bar fight? That's okay with fans as long as he yells, "Fuck!" when the other team scores a goal. It shows he cares. Guys like Joe Thornton or Alex Rodriguez, who have pretty much the same look on their face no matter what? They are lazy, or cowards, or just indifferent to their sport in general. It doesn't matter how many assists they compile or how many home runs they hit, they'll never be fully accepted into the Pantheon of Sports Gods. It doesn't even have to be great players: people seriously wanted Ladislav Nagy (26 points in 38 games) benched for John Zeiler (1 point in 36 games) because Zeiler "looked like he cared out there."

Joe Thornton scored 96 points this season while the next highest Shark amounted 55 points. He was the 2nd biggest reason (besides Nabokov) the Sharks secured the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. Then the Sharks played 3 games and lost 2, obviously because of a fatal flaw in Thornton's character. Nevermind the fact that Milan Michalek has yet to tally a point and Johnathan Cheechoo has 1 assist. Nevermind that Brian Campbell has played his worst hockey since joining the Sharks and Evgeni Nabokov has looked surprisingly normal. Nope, the real problem is the guy averaging a point a game while the opposing team is gearing their entire system around him. Yep, let's blame that guy.



In contrast, look at Jason Arnott. He's the captain of the Nashville Predators as well as their leading scorer. He was pointless until last night (when he scored a goal), but he has yet to receive any real criticism. Why? Because he does things like curse out loud and break his stick and (when he finally scored) jump into the glass and twist his ankle. Oh, and he wasn't drafted first overall so he didn't have unreasonable expectations placed on him. (He was drafted 7th overall, by the way.)

Joe, if you're reading this (and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be), let me give you some advice: try to break your stick tonight. Wait until you make a beautiful pass and Cheechoo mucks it up and just slam your stick into the ice. You don't have to change the way you play* or give some big dramatic speech to your teammates or anything like that; all you have to do is break your stick. You can do what you have been doing (you know, creating goals) but all you're going to hear is how you couldn't carry your team on your back when the game was on the line. And honestly, I bet that's really fucking annoying.

Prediction: Sharks win, 4-1. Thornton assists on all 4 goals and is criticized for passing off responsibility.

*Also, a common criticism I've heard about Joe is that he's not shooting enough. You know why he doesn't shoot, right? Because his shot sucks. I'm pretty sure Marty Turco has a better shot than Joe Thornton. His goals are set up because the goaltender is expecting him to pass. He's like Steve Nash in a way: you take away his passing lanes and make him beat you himself. It's effective because the goalie knows he can't pass and can concentrate on his shot, making him incredibly unlikely to score. That's why he doesn't shoot.

15 comments:

heed said...

i just want to know when the sharks are going to "nut up" and start playing like a winner. it seems like no one on this team is willing to stand up for each other. the fans complain about the cheap hits but they won't stop until san jose does something about it. as an oilers fan, i hate the flames almost as much as i love the oil but the sharks are making it damn hard to cheer on their cause. thornton takes the blame because he's never been a great playoff performer. guys like michalek and cheechoo will always be considered his supporting cast.

Earl Sleek said...

i just want to know when the sharks are going to "nut up" and start playing like a winner.

Any decade now. Bank on it!

RudyKelly said...

Here's what I hate:

If the Sharks had won the last game, the story would be about how Patrick Marleau heroically stayed in the game to lead his team into victory and how the Sharks had rallied around their captain. Since they lost, that hit was the turning point in the game for the Flames as the Sharks folded. It doesn't matter who won the game, the storyling was already written either way. That's not how it should work.

Kelpfreak said...

Or if Phaneuf's shot hadn't hit Iginla's shin and the Sharks killed the penalty, there's no "game-changing momentum swing."

Clearly, the Sharks need to go into tonight's game with a mind to cripple as many Flames as possible. Remember 1998 when Marchment took out Nieuwendyk's knee against Dallas? That worked out great for the Sharks!

GregSJ said...

Good post. I think people who know better aren't disappointed by Thornton's demeanor but rather the dead look of the entire team in the 3rd period. When a team plays with that little fight people blame the team's leaders Thornton, Marleau, etc.
Yesterday I caught the end of the Nashville-Detroit game. Nashville scored to take is first lead of the series with 3+ minutes to go. They then spent the final minutes dominating Detroit by playing attacking hockey. Detroit went virtually shotless.
I wish that energy existed on the Sharks team. Whether Thornton has to break his stick, Shelley has to fight Iginla, or Ron Wilson has to be shown the door -- I don't care. But if they don't start playing 60 minutes with heart and urgency, they don't deserve to win.

Ian said...

Simply put, if the Sharks are healthy, stay focused, and play their game, the Flames are not talented enough to beat them in a series, even if the Flames bring their A game. The Flames are leading the series because they've been able to throw the Sharks off their game with their physical play, have had a few bounces go their way, and the Sharks haven't responded.

Don't go head hunting. Beat them on the scoreboard, and make guys like Sarich meaningless. They can do that by using their size, speed, and skill to tire the Flames D and force them into trying to commit stupid message-plays like Sarich. If the refs don't do their job, fuck 'em. Win anyway (taking a page from the Ducks). No excuses.

If the Sharks can't figure this out, then Doug Wilson seriously needs to reconfigure this team's makeup, starting with the coaching staff.

LS said...

Amen.

It's funny: win game 2, and all we hear is silence (plus a bit of whingeing about not scoring the 5-on-3 and claiming that Nabby was the only reason the Sharks won).

Lose game 3 and all of a sudden it's the end of the season.

Earl Sleek said...

Simply put, if the Sharks are healthy, stay focused, and play their game, the Flames are not talented enough to beat them in a series, even if the Flames bring their A game.

It's one thing I've certainly enjoyed about watching Sharks fans; it's almost never about SJS vs. an opponent, but rather SJS vs. themselves.

Not that it's a terribly wrong position for fans to take, but it's gotta be rough. I mean, the team went 20-or-so games without losing, and Sharks fans weren't that elated; it was more like "Well, it sure is going to suck when the wheels come off this train."

Lose game 3 and all of a sudden it's the end of the season.

Well, the way G3 was lost was probably more of a factor than just the fact that G3 was lost.

Mr. Plank said...

Well, the way G3 was lost was probably more of a factor than just the fact that G3 was lost.

And game one. And the series against the Wings. Come to think of it, just about every goddamn series in Sharks playoff history.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing I've certainly enjoyed about watching Sharks fans; it's almost never about SJS vs. an opponent, but rather SJS vs. themselves.

Whoa there, Sleek. That's not what I meant. I meant that the Sharks top to bottom are a more talented team, and proved it over the course of the regular season, so all things being equal should beat the Flames in a series. I can't say the same thing about the Sharks vs. the Wings or the Ducks.

That said, the Flames deserve their 2 victories. They played extremely well in game 1, and fed on the momentum-changing Sarich hit to spark their come-from-behind rally.

I'm not a Sharks solipsist, but I don't think that trait is unique to Sharks fans. Ask almost any fan of a team that just lost a game whether the other team played great or their team played poorly.

Ian said...

And game one. And the series against the Wings. Come to think of it, just about every goddamn series in Sharks playoff history.

You mean over the last 5 or so years. Before that, the Sharks were considered playoff overachievers. It's only been when the expectations were raised that they started to wilt come springtime.

BTW, the anonymous post above this is mine, obviously. Forgot to put in a name.

Earl Sleek said...

I'm not a Sharks solipsist, but I don't think that trait is unique to Sharks fans. Ask almost any fan of a team that just lost a game whether the other team played great or their team played poorly.

No, you're right there, and I didn't mean to pick on anyone specifically.

Just generically, what I noticed when the Sharks were rolling at the end of the year was a bit strange--Sharks fans seemed loathe to even talk about it, because (I dunno) it was bound to fall apart all at the wrong time.

Now I know recent history makes this understandable, but it is a bit strange. It's not the fans' reaction to losing that's odd, moreso their reaction to winning. Not quite paranoia, but there's an undercurrent of it.

Aw, I'm over-generalizing and rambling. I need some sleep.

Morbo said...

solipsist

Holy thesaurus Batman! I had to look that one up.

John said...

Career stats:

J. Thornton 754 GP, 240 G, 516 A
D. Brown 269 GP, 65 G, 74 A

Brown shows heaps of spunk. Edge Brown?

jamestobrien said...

The A-Rod - Thornton analogy works for and against Big Bird. I don't think I'm the only hockey fan that has been disappointed with Thornton's (totally excusable and totally understandable) playoff performances in the last decade. These things happen to every great player until they come up big, and I'd think even his most avid supporters would hesitate to label him an elite playoff performer.

You certainly made some good points, but equating Arnott to Thornton is comically effective but objectively wrong. Jason Arnott is a quality player/first liner who will never be considered truly elite. When the Stars let him go, I was indifferent.

Joe Thornton is on the short list of franchise centers with Jason Spezza and Sidney Crosby and will almost certainly be a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Wacky enough, people expect a little more from players such as Spezza and Crosby, just like they expect better play from a gigantic, physically gifted center who...you'd think would dominate at least one playoff series given the fact that he's been in the playoffs on 10 occasions.

Is it really that ridiculous to expect one of the 10 best players of the regular season to stand out in the playoffs? What a batshit crazy "perception" to have...